When it comes to busy weekdays, there’s nothing like a pre-packaged delivery meal kit to lend a helping hand. But what if the meal came completely cooked, and all you had to do was heat it up? Say hello to Factor, a new service from HelloFresh that promises to deliver freshly-made, dietician-approved meals straight to your door every week. All you have to do is heat the meal up in the microwave for 3 minutes and voila: a healthy meal that’s ready to eat. It sounds almost too good to be true, so naturally, I had to put it to the test. I ate Factor meals for two weeks – here’s my honest review.
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Currently, Factor is only available in Ontario. However, they’re planning on expanding Canada-wide within 2023.
Meals start at $15 each for six servings, but they’re on a sliding scale, so the more you order, the less they cost. For example, if you order 18 meals, the price goes down to $12 per serving. Shipping is a flat rate of $10 per order. On average, a Factor subscription will set you back about $150 weekly, depending on the plan you choose. There’s no locking in to subscriptions and you can easily pause or skip weeks.
Every meal is dietician-approved and prepared by a chef using fresh, natural ingredients. It’s also worth noting that every meal arrives fresh and not frozen. All of their proteins are raised without antibiotics, and every meal is free from refined sugar and oils. Each meal stays fresh for about a week after delivery.
Nearly all of Factor’s packaging is recyclable and made with recycled content. My factor delivery arrived in a well-insulated cardboard box with 2 heavy-duty ice packs. Each meal comes on a TV-dinner style tray with a cardboard sleeve that indicates the meal inside, ingredients, and heating instructions. Truthfully, seeing all of the meals lined up in my fridge felt a bit like living in a Jetsons-style future, which was neat.
In addition to their standard meals, Factor offers keto, calorie smart, carb smart, vegan and vegetarian meal options. Plus, you can add on extras like cold-pressed juices, keto desserts and extra protein to your weekly order. I tried their cold-pressed juices and they were really delicious – definitely on par with your local trendy juice shop.
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Price is by far the biggest barrier to entry on this service. $15 per meal plus shipping will run you about $100 weekly for six meals, which doesn’t cover any of your other grocery essentials for the week.
Factor is currently offering 10 meal options weekly, with many options repeating week over week. Depending on how many you’re ordering, the meal offerings could quickly become repetitive, especially since some of the seasoning are similar across different meals, like the pesto chicken and the pesto salmon. You get to choose your meals so you can try to avoid this by selecting different meals wherever possible, but if you’re ordering Factor weekly, you might run into repetitions.
Truthfully, some of the Factor meals were just a tad bland and under-salted. The Greek Lemon Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans with Red Onions was a particular instance of this – the meal was just overall kind of bland and grey. It did fill me up, but as someone who really looks forward to their meals, it was just a bit lackluster. That said, I did really enjoy some of the other meals, so you’ll likely need to just test out Factor’s menu to find out what appeals to you.
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The convenience of Factor is hands-down its most incredible feature. Not only do you not have to cook, but it unburdens you from the mental load of needing to decide what to eat, buy ingredients, or make time to prep meals. It’s a true luxury, and on busy work days or evenings when I needed to eat something fast and run out the door, Factor meals were an absolute life saver. Plus, because you can eat the meal right out of the tray it’s in, there are no dishes to do. Yes, please!
When I first looked at a lot of the meals, I thought “there’s no way that I’ll be full after eating this”. Based on volume alone, the meals I typically cook at home are just generally bigger. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was I full after eating a Factor meal, I felt fuller for longer because these dietician-approved meals had been carefully planned to give my body the exact nutrients it needs. I didn’t end up having a late night snack as I usually might, which was an added bonus.
Despite the aforementioned lackluster seasoning on some of the meals, I genuinely enjoyed many of the meals and appreciated that they featured flavour combinations that I might not typically cook for myself. In particular, the Middle Eastern Spiced Beef with Cauliflower Rice and Tahini Yogurt was a standout. The tahini sauce was a tasty and cool contrast to the spiced beef, and it gave extra oomph to the cauliflower rice. I also particularly loved the Pesto Salmon with Caramelized Spinach and Tomato Butter Green Beans. I never would have expected that a microwave fish dinner would become my favourite meal, but I was genuinely excited to eat it again in my second week. The cook on the salmon was perfect, and the pesto was fresh and vibrant green.
If you’re the type of person who frequently gets takeout out of necessity because you don’t have the time or energy to cook, Factor could be the game-changing new service you desperately need. Not only will it save you the time and energy of needing to pick up dinner, it’s a significantly healthier option than most takeout you’ll find. My experience was overwhelmingly positive: I loved how it simplified my life and easily unlocked hours of time from my week. Instead of figuring out what to make for dinner and rushing to cook after work, I could just unwind with a fresh meal in minutes. That said, $15 per serving is steep, especially considering that it’s also currently the minimum hourly wage across Canada. Like so many other wonderful services, Factor is undeniably a luxury. But, if it’s one you can afford, it’s definitely worth trying to see if it’s right for you.
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